An open letter to my eating disorder

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Trigger warning: Eating disorders, anxiety, purge behaviours

Dear ED,

Well, you’ve been out of the spotlight for a long-time now eh?

It’s funny- because there was a point in my life, where you were the only thing that ever got any attention from me at all. You made me put my school grades, my family, my friends and my health to one side so that you could hang around… always telling me that I wasn’t good enough, not pretty enough, not slim enough, not clever enough.

In fact- you had that comparison thing totally nailed for a while. It felt like everyone else was always going to be so much better than you. You used to look at other women and envy them in every aspect, even your best friends. There was nothing that you didn’t want to fault about yourself- and that’s probably when you developed humor as a mechanism. Can’t be the butt of the joke, if you’re the one making it eh? (NB if you catch me making chubby cheeks jokes, then smack me around my perfectly normal sized face)

The weirdest part of it all- is that nobody would ever have agreed with you ED. Nobody else could see the ”fat” you had hanging all over your body. Nobody else thought that you were stupid or a waste of space. Nobody else was backing up what you kept saying- and I wish that I’d exposed you earlier for the fraud that you were.

You took a lot of things from me- which I’m trying to let go and release the bitterness about, but it’s still something that I’m struggling with.

Firstly- you owe me nicer teeth, because these ones I’m stuck with now are so weak that I can’t even whiten them for my wedding day. You also owe me hours and hours I spent doing sit-ups and workout videos in my room. You owe me my prom night, my family holiday to Spain, my freshers week…

You know that I almost wasn’t allowed to go to uni because you were so bad? That my parents actually let you stand in the way of my education and independence?

Sure you quietened down for a bit- but I packed you up, along with the rest of my life and moved you off to Kent with me. When I moved into that tiny little bedroom along the corridor from 18 other people, you were always hanging around. You were the one who squeezed at my insides and refused to buy food. You were the one who would binge secretly after saying you ‘weren’t hungry’. You were the one who told me to throw up all the alcohol you drank every night- causing my face to bloat, my teeth to rot and my stomach to tighten.

I remember how bad you made me feel in my first few weeks away from home. How you embraced an opportunity to thrive without anyone watching you. Binge and purge cycles were your absolute favourite thing- and it felt like you could get away with anything.

Until there was someone watching you. He was watching what you were doing to me. He started to notice all the things that you taught me to do. He was the person who gave me the tools to fight you off and to realise that I was worthy of something else.

I’ve written about all the things that you took from me. But there’s a lot that I gained from fighting you.

I learnt acceptance of my body and other people’s. I learnt that even when people appear happy on the outside, there can be a multitude of reasons why they might be struggling. I learnt that it’s an ongoing battle, even today.

I miss nothing about you. In fact- this will be the only letter I ever write to you, because you aren’t even worth my time or my brain space anymore.

But do you know what I want to leave you with? The realisation that you didn’t win. I got a degree, I got an MA, I found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with- and I’ve had SO many amazing travel and life experiences that I couldn’t even begin to count them. I’m luckier and happier than I ever thought I was allowed to be- and I will never, ever let you grab a-hold of me, in the way that you managed to do for so long.

Goodbye.

Rach

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